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Full Name: Martin Ainsworth
Nationality: British
Organization: None
Occupation Other - Lawyer

Creator: Michael Underwood
Time Span: 1964 - 1974


Martin Ainsworth is a British barrister.

He is a very good one, well known throughout the City and not without attention in the rest of the country, he is sought after when the case in court is tricky and a superb, agile mind is needed. He also is lucky in that he enjoys his work. Though he had yet to find the right woman, he was happy.

And then British Intelligence came calling.

They would not want much but it would take Ainsworth back, first in his memories and then physically, to the gray days and grayer lives of Berlin. Back before WWII as a young student, Ainsworth had spent the year 1935 living and studying in Germany and though he was more interested in his studies, and the young Frauleins, he could not help but notice the heavy weight on the country brought by the Nazi party and the hatred they held of everything not them.

He was sorry to leave some of the people he had grown to admire and perhaps, in some ways, love but he was hardly that unhappy to leave the sense of foreboding that permeated everything. Now nearly three decades later, the part of Germany that the Security Services were asking him to revisit lay under the harsh and still gray control of the East German Communist Party.

Ainsworth is certainly not a spy and does not want to be one in any capacity but the chance to renew a friendship with an old acquaintance, one that might have grown to more than friendship, brings him into a world quite different from the one he deals with in his day-to-day law practice.

In a couple of the novels that would come after his initial adventure, his experience in the cloak and dagger world would be of use, either in solving a problem or advising others. Ainsworth learns that once in that world of subterfuge and skulking, you never really get away.


Number of Books:5
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1974

1 The Unprofessional Spy The Unprofessional Spy
Written by Michael Underwood
Copyright: 1964

Barrister Martin Ainsworth is surprised when he is asked by British Intelligence to look up an old flame of his from WWII, a German woman possibly no working for the Communists in West Berlin. Hardly trained for this sort of work, he at least has his keen intellect and good instincts.
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2 The Shadow Game The Shadow Game
Written by Michael Underwood
Copyright: 1969

British Intelligence comes knocking again, this time asking for help in sneaking out of East Germany an agent that is in trouble. At first it seemed straight-forward but then everything went wrong.

3 A Trout In The Milk A Trout In The Milk
Written by Michael Underwood
Copyright: 1971

The famous barrister was found dead sitting in his swivel chair. The suspects included fellow barristers, their clerks, their pupils, and an assortment of solicitors. And many had reason to want him dead.

4 Reward For A Defector Reward For A Defector
Written by Michael Underwood
Copyright: 1973

Charles Ashmore is a respectable London solicitor. Kurte Menke is an East German asking to defect. They knew each other well during WWII. Now it is curious if Menke's defection was connected to Ashmore's defense of an English spy.

5 A Pinch of Snuff A Pinch of Snuff
Written by Michael Underwood
Copyright: 1974

The Blackstone Club is a highly prestigious legal establishment meant to help its members get away from the stress. It owned a particularly good collection of expensive snuff boxes. When they are stolen, one of the servants knows how it was done but a subsequent murder has the evidence pointing to him.


I pondered for a tad whether to invite Martin Ainsworth into the compendium because it was obvious that he was first and foremost an attorney and the practice of law was the primary emphasis of the short, five-book series. However, with a title like that of the first adventure, The Unprofessional Spy, I could not help but think how appropriate that name was for the entire series.

Now, I do not want to besmirch Ainsworth by implying that he was unprofessional in his work because he is most definitely never that when it comes to the law but when he is asked to step a few times into the murky world of espionage, he is not and does not want to be a professional.

This series is meant to be a mystery series and even more so a legal suspense series but with the first two books concentrating on the shadowy world of spies, and one later also being entwined in such dark alley workings, it does fit.

The grade I give this series is terribly misleading because it could be taken as implying that the workmanship is just good. The writing is far more than just good and the characters become people you know and understand almost immediately, so well does the author choose his words. The suspense that those words present is thick enough to cut and you actually feel like you are there. Still, as spy books go, it will not be of that much interest, hence the grade.

But if you like British legal thrillers as well as spy fiction, check Ainsworth out.


My Grade: B+


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